Many of us call erections “boners,” although there’s no actual bone in the penis. This bone has been the subject of many debates as several animals have them in diverse sizes and lengths, but humans don’t. Evolutionary scientists at the University College London suggest this strange anomaly is a consequence of monogamy and quick sex.
The penis bone, also known as the “baculum,” evolved in mammals more than 95 million years ago, and was spotted in the first primates that emerged about 50 million years ago, according to the researchers. The baculum became larger in some animals and smaller in others. For example, in the walrus, it can be two feet long, while in a monkey it’s about the length of a human fingernail.
Previous research has found the penis bone increases the potential duration of intercourse, and the frequency with which sex can take place. A lioness can copulate 100 times per day, sometimes with only four-minute intervals, but has just a 38 percent conception rate. This means males need to have better sexual stamina to achieve the best chance of paternity.
So, why do humans lack a penis bone?
The recent study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society, found a link between penis bone length, promiscuity, and sex duration. Some species have longer penis bones because they engage in “prolonged intromission,” which means the act of penetration lasts for more than three minutes. Longer intromission times are more common among polygamous mating species, where multiple males mate with multiple females, like bonobos and chimps. This mating system creates an intense competition for fertilization, and reduces a female’s access to more mates by having males spend more time having sex with them, according to the study.
The penis bone is attached at the tip of the penis rather than the base to provide structural support for animals who do prolonged intromission, and to keep the urethra open.
The researchers believe humans lost their penis bones when monogamy became a dominant reproductive strategy about 1.9 million years ago.
“We think that is when the human baculum would have disappeared because the mating system changed at that point,” Kit Opie, a co-author of the study at University College London, told The Guardian.
Opie and his colleague Miranda Brindle believe the male does not need to spend a long time penetrating the female since she is not likely to be leapt by other amorous males. Therefore, the reduction of competition for mates means humans are less likely to need a penis bone. Opie adds, despite popular belief, humans do not generally need longer than three minutes to get the job done, and successfully impregnate a woman.
“We are actually one of the species that comes in below the three minute cut-off where these things come in handy,” he said.
Scientists have just begun to put together the function of this mysterious bone. They do agree changes in the penis bone are driven as part of a mating strategy. This means a bigger penis bone is better when it comes to sexual competition.
Human males, do not feel bad — if the penis bone is damaged, it could take as long as other broken bones to heal.
Engaging in kinky sex may send you into an altered state of consciousness and even unlock your inner creativity, according to a new study. The research also suggests BDSM reduces psychological stress, improves moods, and increases sexual arousal.
Engaging in kinky sex may send you into an altered state of consciousness and even unlock your inner creativity, according to a new study.
Using a small sample of participants from the kink-focused social network Fetlife, researchers investigated the mind-altering effects of BDSM – bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism.
Not only were these activities found to produce two types of altered states, but research suggests BDSM also reduces psychological stress, improves moods, and increases sexual arousal.
So, researchers from the Science of BDSM Research Team at Northern Illinois University recruited seven pairs of self-identified ‘switches’ – people who were willing to be randomly assigned to either a top or bottom role in a BDSM scene.
This way, the researchers explain, the differences observed in the study could be better attributed to the role rather than the individual.
Fourteen people participated in total, with 10 women and four men between the ages of 23 and 64.
For the experiments, the participants partook in seven scenes which involved everything from gentle touching and communication to striking, bondage, and fetish dress.
Each of the participants provided five saliva samples throughout the experiments, and were asked to complete three Stroop tests, involving words and colours: one prior to their assignment, one before the scene, and one after it had ended.
The test measured for an altered state of consciousness aligned with Dietrich’s transient hypofrontality, which relates to daydreaming, runner’s high, meditation, and even some drug highs.
Along with this, the participants were also given a measure of mental ‘flow’ following each scene, using the Flow State Scale ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree.’
Flow is a nine-dimensional altered state conceptualized by Csikszentmihalyi, and is achieved during ‘optimal experiences,’ the researchers explain.
The dimensions of flow include ‘challenge-skill balance, action-awareness merging, clear goals, unambiguous feedback, concentration on task, sense of control, loss of self-consciousness, time transformation,’ and feelings of intrinsic reward.
The experiments revealed that the bottom role and the top role in BDSM are each associated with a distinct altered state of consciousness, both of which have previously been tied to creativity.
According to the researchers, ‘topping’ is linked to the state which aligned with Csikszentmihalyi’s flow, while ‘bottoming’ is associated with both Dietrich’s transient hypofrontality and some aspects of flow.
The team says these activities also reduced stress and negative affect in the participants, and increased sexual arousal.
While BDSM has long been a stigmatized practice, the authors say the finding support the idea that there are numerous factors driving these preferences that do not relate to mental disorder.
‘The results contribute to a growing body of evidence that individuals pursue BDSM for nonpathological reasons,’ the researchers conclude, ‘including the pleasant altered states of consciousness these activities are theorized to produce.’
Many parents find it difficult to talk about sex and intimacy with their children. No one ever taught them how, and it’s understandably uncomfortable. But like anything else, as a parent you need to figure out how and when to discuss sex and intimacy with your child before society does.
Today’s children are at greater risk of developing a warped view of sex and intimacy than ever before. They desperately need you to explain to them your view of what healthy sex and intimacy look like.
When I use the phrase ”warped view” I’m not referring to kinky sex practices or alternative sexuality. I’m far more concerned about the average views regarding sex and sexuality and how they are communicated.
Research shows that young people receive most of their modeling around sexual behavior from the media — in particular, pornography.
Don’t misunderstand me. This is not an anti-pornography stance. My concerns here revolve around the fact young people are getting the majority of their information from such an impersonal source.
While attending the recent TED Women Conference, what I heard from speaker Peggy Orenstein chilled me to the bone.
Orenstein conducted research focused on girls and sex. She performed an in-depth interview with a group of 70 racially and ethnically diverse girls between the ages of 15 and 20 who identified as either college bound or already in college. Among the group, 10 percent placed themselves on the sexuality spectrum as being either lesbian or bisexual.
Research shows a high prevalence of sexual assault occurs on college campuses. Even in our modern culture we still have difficulty navigating discussions of consent without the inevitable spiral into talk of “false allegations.”
As the mother of a 14 ½-year-old son who has been raised in a complicated family, I strive to give him the tools necessary for negotiating the minefield of sexual and intimate relationships.
He has a variety of people he can talk to about these decisions who I know will always have his back.
He knows that he needs to discover his own desires, likes, and dislikes.
He knows that his body belongs to him.
He knows about consent.
He knows to treat his partners with respect and not to be judgmental.
He also knows that talking about these things, though potentially embarrassing, is essential to having healthy and satisfying long-term sexual relationships.
As an intimacy coach and a psychologist, I remain concerned for those kids raised in homes in which their parents never even mention sex, the children whose parents are never physically affectionate in front of them, and those in homes in which too much adult sexual behavior is seen.
Paul Bryant, a professor of telecommunications at Indiana University Bloomington, highlights the trouble faced by children learning about sex through pornography in his “sexual script theory” regarding the sexual socialization of teens.
For today’s teen, pornography lays down internal scripts for a variety of sexual behaviors and scenarios.
If parents do not present an alternative view, the only model for how to behave in sexual relationships will come from media — not just pornography, but from music and music videos as well. Without the safeguard of knowing they have a non-judgmental parent to discuss with what they see and learn, they have no meaningful way to understand and consider the positives and negatives among the variety of sexual scripts they see in order to weigh their feeling about the perceived possibilities.
There is no easy fix to this discussion.
As adults, we need to examine the way we relate to sex and how we talk about it with each other. As we become more comfortable talking about sex with our own partners and peers, we will become more confident about discussing it as a parent as well.
To get you on your way, here are 4 steps you can take to begin addressing the problem and have conversations with your child about sex — starting right now.
1. Take a look at your own experiences of sex and sexuality.
If you have experienced sexual trauma, this is the time to resolve any issues that remain charged or live for you. You may need help to do this or you may already get help through your social support network.
If you haven’t experienced sexual trauma, this is the time to look at any issues, stuck places, and/or negative thought patterns you have in relation to sex and sexual relationships. You can work through this on your own, with your partner, or with your social support network as well.
2. Learn about what is normal for your children at each stage of development.
Try to do this without judgment. Have a look at what your children are being exposed to in your wider culture. Each of us has our own moral code, and moral codes are constructed whereas sexual development is built as part of a biological process.
You may believe that masturbation is a sin, but this is a moral belief. Biologically, ALL children discover that when they touch their genitals, it feels good. This is the way human beings are constructed. Healthy and comprehensive personal development depends on the combination of biological, psychological, spiritual, and moral development, as well as development that is culture specific.
3. Create a safe space to have intimate conversations with your children.
This may seem like a given, but many homes offer no safe space for a child to bring up issues around sex and sexuality. In many families, these topics are dealt with by simply handing children reading materials. There are some excellent books out there to help children with all manner of topics relating to sex and sexuality, but books are not a substitute for a home environment that fosters safe conversation.
Your children need a place where they can get questions answered. Start creating that safe space to talk about emotions first (if you haven’t already). Once your children are used to talking about more difficult topics and you are used to dealing with these without judgment, with acceptance, and in a way that fosters growth, then you can begin to have the talks about sex.
4. Find out what is age appropriate for your child and pitch your conversation to that level.
Talking to a five-year-old who asks where babies come from is very different from answering a question about how you get pregnant from a 10-year-old. Keep the conversations short and sweet. Do use videos, audio recordings, and books as aids, and encourage your children to come back to you with questions.
Set up a consistent routine so your child knows there will always be a time and a place to bring up these topics. If you’re not comfortable having these sorts of conversations with your child OR your child is too embarrassed to talk to you, make sure you have an alternate trusted adult (or a few) the child knows they can feel free to approach. Children thrive when they have more than one viewpoint to consider about this amazing, yet complicated part of life.
Remember that this is a process that will continue to take shape throughout your child’s development.
If you do so, then your young adult will also come to you with questions and your adult child will be much more likely to create satisfying intimate relationships for himself or herself.
Children who have self-knowledge and an understanding of the joy and dangers of sex are at lower the risk of becoming victims of sexual assaults.
The more knowledge you possess, the more quickly you are apt to take a firm stance, and therefore the more likely you are to be seen by a perpetrator as a difficult target. Perpetrators go for the softest targets they can find, so the harder a target you make yourself, the more you lower your risks.
A new app called Pea provides a training course for men suffering from the embarrassment of premature ejaculation.
Premature ejaculation isn’t a subject many men want to talk about. If it’s happened to you, it’ll be a cringe-worthy memory. If it hasn’t then you don’t really want to jinx things.
But a new app, Pea, is providing a solution to men who are blighted by going from 0 to 60 too quickly.
Brennen Belich has suffered from premature ejaculation, so he decided to give men an app that can train them to last longer — a dick training app if you will.
“Just think of it like training for a race. If you want to be able to run for 30 minutes straight, you wouldn’t train by sprinting for two minutes, getting tired, and giving up,” Belich explained.
The app educates men through the “Learn why you Prejack” section, and provides lessons on Kegel training (pelvic muscle building), arousal control and masturbation training (yes, that’s a thing).
Premature ejaculation is usually classed as reaching climax in between one and three minutes. It isn’t a disease and has both biological and psychological causes, so the app takes a variety of approaches to easing the problem.
The cost of the iOS app is a mere $1.85, which isn’t bad value if it changes you from being gone in 60 seconds to a porn star in bed.
Or you can stick with conjuring up the image of a naked Donald Trump doing squats whenever you get too close, too soon. The choice is yours.
Own The Conversation
Ask The Big Question
Can something like an app really help with this?
Drop This Fact
Premature ejaculation reportedly affects between 20 and 30% of men.
Thanks to the internet and social technology, it’s now far easier for gay men or men who have sex with men (MSM) to access information and content about LGBT issues in the privacy of their own home or from remote locations outside of city centres than having to go to bookstores, libraries, or public places, or traveling or relocating to cities, as in the past.
But what are some effective ways to use this access to (and dissemination of) information when it comes to sexual health issues, such as sexually-transmitted infections (STIs)?
A panel discussion at the 12th annual Gay Men’s Health Summit held by the Community-Based Research Centre at SFU Harbour Centre in November addressed this topic.
Panel members from organizations across Canada discussed how internet and mobile technology can be used for campaigns to improve gay male health and combat stigma.
Getting the sex you want
Toronto’s Dan Gallant from the Gay Men’s Sexual Health Alliance of Ontario talked about their website The Sex You Want.
The alliance is a network of frontline workers, researchers, policy makers, community members, and more who are addressing the sexual health needs of Ontario men.
The Sex You Want, which has been in development for over a year, is designed to help reduce gaps in knowledge that contribute to stigma, to help empower gay men in making informed decisions about sex, and to raise awareness of various options for prevention strategies.
Gallant said they have tried to incorporate both scientific evidence and a sex-positive attitude incorporated into content, while making it enjoyable to browse through.
In line with all of that, they chose to use a variety of forms of communication, including text, infographics, and comics, along with illustrations and animation instead of photos to avoid any complications of individuals revoking the use of their image.
Getting checked online
Troy Grennan, a physician lead at the B.C. Centre for Disease Control, talked about how stigma can lead to the avoidance of healthcare, including seeking STI testing, treatment, or information.
He pointed out how mobile and internet technologies can help to address gaps and overcome barriers to testing and care. For instance, online resources can help to reach MSM (men who have sex with men, who may not identify as LGBT) or men who live in rural areas who face greater challenges in getting tested and may be at greater risk of infection.
For instance, Grennan pointed out that many Vancouver clinics are facing increases in capacity and often have to turn away people, particularly individuals with non-urgent issues, due to lack of time.
Other issues include clinic hours, whether or not male or female service providers are available as options, and finding providers who are easy to talk to about LGBT issues.
He said that the internet and technology can play a role in home-testing, partner notification (or the use of electronic means to inform others that they may have been exposed to possible infection) online outreach (to have online conversations and ask questions), online counselling, sending test results by email or text messages, medication reminders, and check-ins about symptoms.
Grennan explained that BCCDC’s website Get Checked Online is like a virtual clinic which helps to “improve sexual health by increasing uptake in frequency of testing, acceptability of testing, and also, as a result of all that, improve increased timeliness of diagnosis, which again are critical factors in times where there are high rates in STIs.”
At the site, users can fill out account profile, which helps to determine what testing is necessary. If testing is needed, users can print out a requisition form, which they can take to LifeLabs location in B.C. At the labs, specimens are taken, such as blood and urine. Self-collected swabs for throat and rectal samples were introduced a few months ago.
Users receive an email notification when results are ready. If there are any positive results or problems with samples, users receive a message that they need to call to speak with someone.
Getting the Buzz
RÉZO codirector Frédérick Pronovost from Montreal talked about how his organization developed the app MonBuzz as an online intervention to inform users about the risks of substance use in relation to sexual health.
He said the app was designed to help individuals make informed decisions about drug use as well as to provide information and resources for MSM populations who are sometimes challenging to reach.
Pronovost said that when they conducted focus groups, participants said they wanted something that informed them about risk but wasn’t judgmental or a killjoy. They also didn’t want anything that overly referred to substance use or sexual identity.
He explained that they had to balance the needs of gay communities with their scientific team and IT firm in creating something achievable yet affordable.
Getting on Facebook
SFU PhD student and BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS research assistant Kiffer Card presented some of the results of a study on how Facebook is used to spread messages.
He said that they took a look at several Vancouver organizations serving local gay community by examining metrics and how users interacted with content
In a close-knit community like Vancouver, he said that they found that dedicated efforts zeroing on specific issues can have an influential effect throughout the city, as in the example of CBRC’s Resist Stigma campaign.
“We see that not only did Resist Stigma increase their discussion around stigma but a lot of the other community-based organizations [did] too and it shows that a focused effort can actually improve the theme or the topic for all the other organizations as well,” he said.
Other findings revealed that Facebook posts in the morning performed better than during or after work hours, there was little difference between post performances on weekdays or weekends, positive messages performed more effectively than things like sarcasm, and asking questions also heightened engagement.